December 30, 1993 - From the December, 1993 issue

Inside Planning: Around the City and the Region

A new air quality permitting counter, LAUSD purchasing a downtown high school, and more — TPR presents land-use news in the City of Los Angeles and the region. 

L.A. Gets New Air Quality Permitting Counter

A new air quality permit counter is now open at L.A. City Hall, which Councilman Hal Bernson hailed as "the beginning of the end of gridlock for business in the city." Previously, a trip to the South Coast Air Quality Management District in Diamond Bar was necessary to obtain these permits. The office is located at the Construction Services Counter, Room 460, P-1. A satellite office is scheduled to begin operation in the San Fernando Valley next month. 

New L.A. Department of Transportation Manager 

L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan on November 30 appointed Robert R. Yates as general manager of the Department of Transportation upon the retirement of S.E. Rowe this past summer. Yates has been the department's chief administrative analyst since 1984. His appointment must be confirmed by the City Council. 

First Street North Project Gets Go Ahead From CAO 

According to a recent report by the Los Angeles Chief Administrative Officer, Keith Comrie, the city is considering a mixed-use development project at First Street North to provide government office space for Los Angeles city workers. The city has been examining various options including constructing a new build­to-suit project, or rehabilitating office space in the Historic Core. While historic renovation is considered to be more fiscally feasible, the feasibility study conducted by Keyser Marston & Associates found that a move into the historic core would be more expensive than the First Street North project. The study listed two other options that were less expensive than the First Street North project - purchasing a Class A building in the Financial district and leasing a Class B space in the Financial District, but the CAO report found them unfeasible. If approved the would be a joint development of the city and private developer Barker Patrinely, with the city retaining ownership of the land. The office space would be used to consolidate city employees housed in offices throughout downtown.

Westside Update 

The Coastal Bluffs Specific Plan passed the Planning Commission and is being reviewed by the City Attorney’s office. The plan, required by state law, would regulate the size of residential and commercial buildings in the zone, which is east of Lincoln Boulevard and east of Vista Del Mar. Although all of the area is hillsides, it is exempted from the city's hillside ordinance. The City Council on November 23 voted to extend the Venice Interim Control Ordinance for one more year. A report on traffic is due by March, after which workshops and public meetings will begin. Ever since the Planning Commission rejected creating a Pedestrian Oriented District in the Westwood/Pico area, Councilwoman Ruth Galanter and her staff have been negotiating with the involved interests including business and homeowner representatives. 

LAUSD Downtown High School 

The Los Angeles City Planning Commission has given conditional approval to the Los Angeles Unified School District's acquisition of a new high school site near downtown Los Angeles. The district plans to use $30 million, part of the $50 million previously set aside to buy the Ambassador Site, to buy the Temple Street - Beaudry Avenue site parcel from the Tokyo-based Shimizu Corp. The district could start building on the vacant Temple - Beaudry site as soon as June, provided the project is approved under a state bond measure. The high school could be ready in three years, according to district officials. 

Sylmar Opposition Halts Development 

The Los Angeles City Planning Commission has postponed decisions on two proposed developments that have sparked opposition in Sylmar, as the developer and community representatives search for a compromise. The dispute involves a pair of proposals by developer Mark Armbruster who wants to build 84 duplex homes in the 15200 block of Foothill Boulevard and a gated community of 36 single-family homes in the 13400 block of Dronfield Avenue. Critics contend that the developments would increase housing density in a region filled with horse trails and estate-sized lots, while opponents fear that occupants of the new homes would complain about live­stock on neighboring property. ''We are fighting to save the ruralness of our community, " said Stephanie Goodrich, a homeowner who lives next to the Foothill Blvd. site. The Planning Commission is recommending a compromise that would allow development that did not infringe on horse-keeping. 


HUD Secretary Cisneros Promotes Home Buying Program 

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros recently unveiled the Clinton Administration's plan to promote home buying with the hope of reversing a decade-long trend of declining home ownership, particularly among low- and middle-income families. The new plan focuses on removing financial and discriminatory barriers that have contributed to a drop in American home ownership from 66% to 64% since 1980, reversing 40 years of steady increase. Elements of the plan include the revival of the Federal Housing Administration, zero-interest loans and federal vouchers that could be used to make mortgage payments. In an effort to revitalize inner-city neighborhoods, the Clinton Administration wants to allow residents of public housing projects to buy homes in which they live. 

Proposition 168 Fails at the Polls 

Proposition 168, which would have amended Article 34 of the State Constitution, removing a barrier to developing affordable housing, failed on a 40% to 60% statewide vote on November 2. Prop. 168 was a causality of a special election ballot in which only 4.9 million relatively conservative voters went to the polls compared to 9 million in a typical general election, and from being on a ballot in a time when voters were voting "no" on virtually everything. A better economy, a less fearful electorate and a spot on a general rather than special election ballot leaves the door open to the possibility or a successful campaign to revise Article 34 in the future.

Post-AB 1290 Redevelopment 

With AB 1290, the redevelopment overhaul bill set to go into effect on January 1, many redevelopment agencies are weighing their options as they prepare ordinances to enact a redevelopment plan adoption or plan amendment. Under existing law, the standards for finding a project area blighted are more lax than under AB 1290, particularly with regard to certain types of amendments. However, AB l290's mandatory tax sharing package may result in the diversion of fewer tax increment dollars to taxing entities. Also, agencies may want to have their legislative bodies authorize the issuance of indebtedness prior to January 1 in order to take advantage of the definition and favorable treatment of "existing indebtedness" in AB 1290. Finally, if agencies desire to use redevelopment powers for the construction of new city halls or to provide direct assistance to an auto dealership or a large retailer, the task becomes more difficult under AB 1290 at the start of the new year. 

On the Move ... 

Los Angeles County Supervisor Ed Edelman has decided not to seek another term, opening up a potential political scramble to fill his chair as the third district representative on the powerful board. Meanwhile, Los Angeles City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, who won another four-year term this year to represent his Westside electorate, said he is "actively" considering running for Edelman's seat and is considered the favorite if he decides to run.

Christopher C. Martin, managing partner of A.C. Martin and current chairman of Central City Association, will officially step down in January 1994 and pass the chairmanship to Nelson Rising, senior partner of Maguire Thomas Partners. 

Jananne Sharpless, has stepped down as head of the state's Air Resources Board and will serve as a member of the California Energy Commission. Sharpless headed the air quality agency for more than eight years, repeatedly bucking the auto and oil industries as she led the ARB to adopt bold standards that force the use of cleaner-burning fuels and electric cars in California. 

Carlyle Hall, former CRA commissioner has formed a new law firm, Hall & Associates, specializing in public interest litigation, and counseling on public policy issues ranging from environment and land use to consumer protection. Finally, David Kramer, formerly of Skidrow Housing Trust has taken over the position of Housing Director for the Venice Community Housing Corporation.


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